Pistachio Macarons

Are you a pistachio fan? I love to eat them cold from the freezer.

Stay with me- I know it sounds a bit weird, but if you keep them in the freezer and when ready to snack on, remove a handful or two or three- they actually taste a bit sweeter. My brother-in-law who is Italian taught me that trick years ago. Besides the fact that if you are not using any type of nut right away, it is good practice to keep them in the freezer, so they do not go rancid. Mind you, a bag of pistachios in our house doesn’t last very long anyways. I made a pistachio – rose cake Birthday cake recently for a dear friend and I had some leftover pistachio buttercream so decided to whip up some pistachio macs. Some people will use ground pistachio as part of the almond flour in their recipes- and yes you can certainly do that, but it will take time to get them ground the right fineness that you need or if you buy the pistachio meal, it is not cheap. This was more a spur of the moment bake.

I like this version because with the pistachio paste made fresh gives the macs such great flavor once you fold it into Swiss meringue buttercream.

Alot of times when I’m making Swiss meringue buttercream, I will freeze leftover portions of it and pull it out to come to room temperature. I always try to have vanilla SMBC frozen so I can add any flavorings to it to make it into a certain desired flavor. In this case I stirred in 3 Tablespoons of my pistachio paste for each 2 cups of my vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC is easier to type).

Macaron Shell Recipe:

124 g confectioners sugar

140 g almond flour

108 g fresh egg whites (I don’t age mine)

110 g granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

mint green gel food coloring

  1. In a food processor place the almond flour and confectioners sugar and run for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides so the mixture settles into the processor bowl. Repeat this 2 more times, then sift mixture through a strainer (it doesn’t have to be fine) over a large bowl (I use a 5 quart size stainless steel bowl). Preheat the oven to 300° F convection, 325° F for non convection setting. (If you want to try a different drying technique and/temperature see below about drying). Prepare two baking sheets with Silpat mats. I use these mats by Velesco (you can get 2 for 13 dollars on Amazon).
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar and whisk by hand to combine. Place over a ban marie and stir gently for about 5 minutes until the mixture reaches about 130 F or when you touch the mixture with your index and thumb fingers you don’t feel any sugar crystals. Remove from the heat and place on the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and start the meringue by running mixer on power level 4 (Kitchen Aide) and run for about 3 minutes.  Stop once to scrape the sides of the bowl to push down the mixture that appears on the sides.
  3. Increase mixer then to power level 6 and run for 3 minutes.~ 3 minutes.
  4. Stop mixer and with a bamboo skewer or toothpick add in a bit of mint green gel food color. You can add more color later during the end folding stage.
  5. Increase mixer to power level high (10) and run until the meringue is stiff peaks and it has started leaving tracks in the meringue and a good portion has collected inside the whisk . A sign that meringue is ready is there will be a good amount collected within the whisk and if you turn the bowl upside down the meringue will not slip or move. If you stop the mixer and tap the whisk gently on the side of the mixer bowl it will look like a bird beak; the meringue is stiff but it has a slight hooked curve when holding the whisk horizontally. If the color does not appear to be mixer to your liking at this point I add in any color and mix gently by; being careful not to overmix.
  6. Add one half of almond flour/sugar mix and start folding with a rubber spatula until mixture starts to look cohesive. Add in the remaining half and continue to gently fold, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. After the almond/sugar mixture is all added, I do about 4 reps of where I smash the mixture against the walls of the bowl with either my spatula or bowl scraper, stopping after each time to test the “flow” of the batter.. The batter is perfect when you lift up the spatula and tip the pointed end of the spatula down and ribbons of batter fall smoothly back into the bowl. I like to gauge its ready when I can count 6-7 ribbons falling without breaking and I can “draw” a figure 8 with the batter when lifting the spatula and letting it fall into the bowl. Fill your pastry bag by using a heavy tall cup or mason jar to hold your pastry bag with the top folded over the glass. When preparing your bag after you drop in your round tip (I use Ateco 804), twist the bag right above the larger end of the tip and push it down into tip. Fold the top 4 inches of the bag over the jar or glass.
  7. Let the batter fall right into the bottom of the bag and continue filling to ensure you don’t get air bubbles. When ready to pipe and all of the batter is in the bag, twist the top of the bag and when ready to pipe, push down with your dominant hand to force the bottom of the tip to open.
  8. Pipe the batter onto prepared baking sheet with 30 macarons per sheet. Six across the long side, and five rows perpendicular. Take the sheet pan and let it drop onto the counter about 5-7 times, then look for any visible air bubbles and pop with a toothpick or bamboo skewer.
  9. I bake the macarons one tray at a time in a preheated (convection oven ) for NON convection oven* you’ll want to play around and determine what the perfect temp for you is; generally it would be 20 degrees hotter than convection) for about 15 minutes or until the cookie does not wiggle when attempting to check by carefully grabbing both sides of a cookie and gently testing. Let the tray rest on a wire rack and then bake the second tray. Cool the cookies completely and pipe the buttercream between two cookies and sandwich together.
  10. I recently started drying my macs in a different way using the technique known by “Sugarbean” on Youtube. She has a technique whereby she dries her macs in lower degree oven for 2-3 minutes with the door ajar and then she increases the temp and bakes at the higher temperature. After a few thousand trials #kiddingnotkidding I finally (for me) arrived at the perfect temp for my oven at a convection temp of 248° F for drying and then 293° F for baking and here is the process I use.

Drying macs w/ oven method: (known as the Sugar Bean method). She has videos on you tube if you search for her.

I preheat my oven to 248° degrees F before I have piped my macs. I place one tray in the oven and immediately turn off the oven, then open the oven and place something like an oven mitt or something to keep it ajar a couple inches. Then I immediately turn back on the oven at 248° F again, and time for 2-3 minutes. After 3 minutes I close the oven door and turn up the oven to 293° F. Once the oven temp comes up to 293° F, I then start timing my bake time for 15 minutes. After the bake time I open the door and check a macaron; if it’s super wiggly still I bake for another minute. If it barely wiggles or not at all, I turn off the oven and open the oven door ajar and time for another 2-3 minutes; “Sugar bean” calls this the “oven shower”. After the 3 minutes, I remove the tray and then let them cool over a wire rack. Now; since the second tray has already been drying at room temperature; I usually only oven dry for 2 minutes and repeat the bake as I did for the first tray.

*A word about oven temperatures: EVERY one’s oven is different and after painstaking doing several batches of macarons I determined that in MY oven 293 F convection setting is best for me. Check your oven temperature against a thermometer placed in the middle of your oven. Some people bake there’s at 285, 290, 310 etc. unfortunately it’s something that you have to play around with and determine what is best for you and your oven. 

Have you ever made the Easy Buttercream from Sugar Geek? Here is the link for her recipe:

Easy Buttercream Frosting + Video Tutorial | Sugar Geek Show

It uses pasteurized egg whites and confectioners sugar in the recipe and like the name says- is super easy. You could use that same recipe and factor in the ratio the same for stirring the 3 Tablespoons for every 2 cups of vanilla buttercream. Options- it’s always good to have options.

Pistachio Paste Recipe

1/2  Cup shelled unsalted & roasted pistachio nuts

6 Tbsp.  sugar

1 1/2  Tbsp. water

1 Tbsp. pistachio, avocado oil, or vegetable oil (not same as the oil below which is a flavoring oil)

1. Prepare a sheet pan with either a Silpat or by lightly greasing with vegetable oil.

2. Pour the water in a saucepan and then add the sugar. With a clean finger mix the sugar and water until it looks like wet sand. Have a cup of water with a clean pastry brush placed in the cup.  Bring the sugar to a boil stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once sugar dissolves-stop stirring. If sugar crystals form along the sides of the pan; use the wet pastry brush to let water drip down to dissolve the crystals. Continue to cook until the mixture comes to a light caramel color. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the nuts. Return to the heat and cook until comes to a medium amber color. Working quickly- pour the nut mixture onto prepared pan and with a heat proof spatula do your best to flatten out nuts. Allow the nuts to cool until they become hard.

3. Once mixture is hard and completely cooled- use your hands to break apart any large clumps. Place the mixture in a food processor and pulse several times to initially break up the mixture. Proceed to process the mixture until it starts to form a thick paste. When the blade no longer seems to move add the oil and continue to process until as smooth as possible. Leftover should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month or the freezer.

Pistachio Buttercream– first you have to prepare a Vanilla SWMC or “Easy Buttercream”.

Stir in 3 tablespoons of prepared fresh pistachio paste for every 2 cups of either “Easy buttercream” or my recipe for vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SWMC). I also like to add in a drop or two to taste of Lorann’s pistachio concentrated flavor oil if I have it on hand. See picture reference below.

Vanilla SMBC Recipe

3 large egg whites

3/4 Cup sugar

Pinch of salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp

3/4 tsp. vanilla

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the eggs whites and sugar, and pinch of salt and place over a pot with simmering water. Whisk the egg whites and sugar and heat until the sugar has dissolved, and the mixture is about 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer* (*alternatively- you can feel the mixture with your first two fingers and if you don’t feel any sugar granules then it is ok). Turn off the heat. Attach the mixer bowl onto the mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk the mixture on medium until the bottom of the bowl is almost cool to the touch and the mixture has turned into a nice stiff meringue. This will take several minutes. With the mixer on medium high, add the softened butter one tablespoon at a time and continue to mix until all the butter is incorporated, and the mixture is smooth. It will go through a curdled looking stage as it mixes; but don’t worry keep adding the butter and it will come together. Add in the vanilla and mix to combine.

[Tip to scale up or down a recipe of Vanilla SMBC] (now, this is MY ratio recipe, if you like to use less butter, or you’ve seen recipes that are different- then so be it-please don’t write me saying its wrong or whatever; don’t come at me. You do you boo).

For every one large egg white– I use 1/4 Cup of granulated sugar. If I’m using 4 egg whites, then from there I know how much sugar to use and how much butter. For instance: if using a recipe with 4 egg whites, I’ll use 1 Cup of sugar, pinch of salt, and 3 sticks of butter, and 1 tsp. of vanilla. Note- I just make the pinch of salt a bit bigger- it’s not really crucial to measure it, just use a bigger pinch etc. if using 5 egg whites or 6 whites. I only buy unsalted butter and bake with unsalted butter.

5 egg whites would be 1 1/4 Cup granulated sugar, pinch of salt, and 4 sticks of butter. The process is always the same as far as technique. This way you can increase the amount of SMBC and adjust the addition of vanilla based on whether you’re going to be adding in other flavorings. I typically will use 1 tsp. of vanilla for every 4-egg white portion of SMBC, I’ll typically go by taste when it comes to the vanilla- once I make it, I’ll take a small tase with a spoon and decide if I want to add more. For a 5-egg white SMBC I might go with 1 1/4 tsp. of vanilla. It’s simply a matter of taste.

6 egg whites would be 1 1/2 Cups granulated sugar, pinch of salt, and 5 sticks of butter. Vanilla per taste.

3 egg whites would be 3/4 Cups granulated sugar, pinch of salt, and 2 sticks of butter. Vanilla per taste.

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